Being a successful pop band in the entertainment industry is definitely not easy. Being a successful Asian pop band though? The backlash and negativity that Asian pop bands receive in this day and age are on a whole other level. We were able to witness this once again with BTS, the world’s most popular Korean-Pop (K-Pop) boy band.
What went down
On Thursday (February 28), a German radio host, Matthias Matuschik had spilled continuous racist remarks about the septet after the band’s stellar cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You‘ during their MTV Unplugged performance. He compared the band to COVID-19, stating that they should be gotten rid of with a vaccine. According to Forbes, he added that BTS deserved to take a “vacation” to North Korea for the next 20 years for their cover, then tried to shield himself in advance against accusations of xenophobia, arguing that he drives a South Korean car (According to Teen Vogue, that is false. His car was manufactured in Japan).
Of course, BTS’s fanbase, ARMY, immediately was informed of the comments and started demanding an apology.
The company that the host is under, Bayern 3, released two statements stating how the host was just ‘expressing his opinion in a clear, open and ironic, exaggerated way’ and that he was ‘miles away from racist views’. Matuschik also released a statement, mentioning the fact that he underestimated the power of ARMY and how they would go all out to protect their role models. He also stated in his statement that ARMYs are ‘fanatical followers of a musical cash machine’ which implies that his feeble apology is insincere and adds to the common stereotypes that K-Pop fans have.
Some celebrities who are close to BTS also took to their personal social media platforms to address this issue.
Although this issue is a huge one, it is most certainly not surprising. The BTS members have always faced backlash and have been belittled so many times in the entertainment industry, even in their early years as K-Pop idols. People still have not come to terms with the fact that an Asian pop group has entered the entertainment scene properly, and are beating other artists in their own game, which is why such problems arise in the first place (Is it that difficult to accept it, though?).
It is definitely unsettling to realize the fact that racism is still around in this day and age. As an ARMY myself, I was deeply hurt by the words that were used by Matuschik against BTS and ARMY. BTS’ fanbase is one of the most diverse groups of people, with fans of all genders, races, and religions. It was even more, angering to know that BTS is not appreciated for their word and their actions. The group’s lyrics and melodies are always well thought out and are created with the aim to comfort and be there for whoever listens to their masterpieces. Their music has helped millions of people get over the lowest points of their lives and become better people as a whole. It is hence blasphemous, to use Matuschik’s own word, to compare a group that has helped and saved many people to a virus that killed even more.
However, this issue has proved once again, what kind of a force BTS is to ARMY and ARMY is to BTS. To conclude, the issue has also brought up two facts that no one can deny: 1) Nothing can ever hold us down. 2) Like what the group’s leader, Kim Namjoon has famously said, “If you can’t respect, don’t even open your mouth.”
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